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Chapter 18


During the whole of that day, in the extremely different
conversations in which he took part, only as it were with the top
layer of his mind, in spite of the disappointment of not finding
the change he expected in himself, Levin had been all the while
joyfully conscious of the fulness of his heart.

After the rain it was too wet to go for a walk; besides, the
storm clouds still hung about the horizon, and gathered here and
there, black and thundery. on the rim of the sky. The whole
party spent the rest of the day in the house.

No more discussions sprang up; on the contrary, after dinner
every one was in the most amiable frame of mind.

At first Katavasov amused the ladies by his original jokes, which
always pleased people on their first acquaintance with him. Then
Sergey Ivanovitch induced him to tell them about the very
interesting observations he had made on the habits and
characteristics of common houseflies, and their life. Sergey
Ivanovitch, too, was in good spirits, and at tea his brother drew
him on to explain his views of the future of the Eastern
question, and he spoke so simply and so well, that everyone
listened eagerly.

Kitty was the only one who did not hear it all--she was summoned
to give Mitya his bath.

A few minutes after Kitty had left the room she sent for Levin to
come to the nursery.

Leaving his tea, and regretfully interrupting the interesting
conversation, and at the same time uneasily wondering why he had
been sent for, as this only happened on important occasions,
Levin went to the nursery.

Although he had been much interested by Sergey Ivanovitch's views
of the new epoch in history that would be created by the
emancipation of forty millions of men of Slavonic race acting
with Russia, a conception quite new to him, and although he was
disturbed by uneasy wonder at being sent for by Kitty, as soon as
he came out of the drawing room and was alone, his mind reverted
at once to the thoughts of the morning. And all the theories of
the significance of the Slav element in the history of the world
seemed to him so trivial compared with what was passing in his
own soul, that he instantly forgot it all and dropped back into
the same frame of mind that he been in that morning.

He did not, as he had done at other times, recall the whole train
of thought--that he did not need. He fell back at once into the
feeling which had guided him, which was connected with those
thoughts, and he found that feeling in his soul even stronger and
more definite than before. He did not, as he had had to do with
previous attempts to find comforting arguments, need to revive a
whole chain of thought to find the feeling. Now, on the
contrary, the feeling of joy and peace was keener than ever, and
thought could not keep pace with feeling.

He walked across the terrace and looked at two stars that had
come out in the darkening sky, and suddenly he remembered. "Yes,
looking at the sky, I thought that the dome that I see is not a
deception, and then I thought something, I shirked facing
something," he mused. "But whatever it was, there can be no
disproving it! I have but to think, and all will come clear!"

Just as he was going into the nursery he remembered what it was
he had shirked facing. It was that if the chief proof of the
Divinity was His revelation of what is right, how is it this
revelation is confined to the Christian church alone? What
relation to this revelation have the beliefs of the Buddhists,
Mohammedans, who preached and did good too?

It seemed to him that he had an answer to this question; but he
had not time to formulate it to himself before he went into the
nursery.

Kitty was standing with her sleeves tucked up over the baby in
the bath. Hearing her husband's footstep, she turned towards
him, summoning him to her with her smile. With one hand she was
supporting the fat baby that lay floating and sprawling on its
back, while with the other she squeezed the sponge over him.

"Come, look, look!" she said, when her husband came up to her.
"Agafea Mihalovna's right. He knows us!"

Mitya had on that day given unmistakable, incontestable signs of
recognizing all his friends.

As soon as Levin approached the bath, the experiment was tried,
and it was completely successful. The cook, sent for with this
object, bent over the baby. He frowned and shook his head
disapprovingly. Kitty bent down to him, he gave her a beaming
smile, propped his little hands on the sponge and chirruped,
making such a queer little contented sound with his lips, that
Kitty and the nurse were not alone in their admiration. Levin,
too, was surprised and delighted.

The baby was taken out of the bath, drenched with water, wrapped
in towels, dried, and after a piercing scream, handed to his
mother.

"Well, I am glad you are beginning to love him," said Kitty to
her husband, when she had settled herself comfortably in her
usual place, with the baby at her breast. "I am so glad! It had
begun to distress me. You said you had no feeling for him."

"No; did I say that? I only said I was disappointed."

"What! disappointed in him?"

"Not disappointed in him, but in my own feeling; I had expected
more. I had expected a rush of new delightful emotion to come
as a surprise. And then instead of that--disgust, pity..."

She listened attentively, looking at him over the baby, while she
put back on her slender fingers the rings she had taken off while
giving Mitya his bath.

"And most of all, at there being far more apprehension and pity
than pleasure. Today, after that fright during the storm, I
understand how I love him."

Kitty's smile was radiant.

"Were you very much frightened?" she said. "So was I too, but I
feel it more now that it's over. I'm going to look at the oak.
How nice Katavasov is! And what a happy day we've had
altogether. And you're so nice with Sergey Ivanovitch, when you
care to be.... Well, go back to them. It's always so hot and
steamy here after the bath."



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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